Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks. When you are outdoors, follow these guidelines:
- Avoid areas that are wooded, brushy, or have tall grass.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET. It can be put on clothing or sparingly on the skin. Dont apply it to the face or hands of children.
- Treat clothing, tents, or other gear with repellents containing 0.5% permethrin.
- Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to see and remove ticks from your clothes.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots for added protection.
After you get home, check everything and everyone for ticks.
- Bathe or shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks that have not attached to you.
- Check your entire body for ticks. Use a mirror for places you cant see. Check your children and your pets. Common tick locations include the back of the knees, groin area, underarms, ears, scalp, and the back of the neck.
- Check any gear you used, including coats, backpacks, or tents.
Tumble dry clothes or blankets on high heat in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes. This should kill any ticks. If clothes are dirty, wash them in hot water and dry on high heat for 60 minutes.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Since Lyme disease can take different forms, and since its often confused with other conditions, its important to be proactive if you suspect the condition. What signs prompt medical help? Call the healthcare provider if:
- You have a bullseye rashor any kind of rashfollowing a tick bite.
- You experience flu-like symptoms after a tick bite.
- You experience symptoms of more advanced Lyme disease: arthritis, heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, and others.
What Are The Clinical Manifestations Of Ld
Clinical manifestations are divided into early, localized disease, and later disease.
Early, localized disease: Erythema migrans a rash at the site of a recent tick bite is the most common presentation in children and adults . EM typically develops seven to 14 days after a tick bite. EM is usually > 5 cm and mainly flat. There may be central clearing or some bluish discoloration but a classic bulls eye is uncommon. EM is usually asymptomatic but is not painful to the touch, like a cellulitis. EM can be confused with a localized hypersensitivity reaction from a tick or insect bite, which is usually swollen, smaller in size and pruritic). There can be either a single erythema migrans rash or multiple rashes without extracutaneous manifestations. However, fever, malaise, headache, mild neck stiffness, myalgia and arthralgia often accompany EM.
Without treatment, EM resolves spontaneously over a four-week period, on average.
Later disease: Approximately 20% of children with LD first present to a health care provider with extracutaneous signs or symptoms that are compatible with LD. These cases may also have a recent past history of EM lesions and non-specific low-grade fever, myalgia, and fatigue upon questioning further.
Figure 4) Erythema migrans rash showing the classic bulls eye form. Reproduced from reference 1 © All rights reserved. With permission from the Minister of Health, 2014
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How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
Ticks are more prevalent during the warmer months of April through September however, tick bites can occur year-round. If your child is going to spend time outdoors, especially in an area where Lyme disease is common, you should take steps to prevent tick bites.
When heading outside, children should:
- Avoid grassy, brushy or wooded areas
- Treat clothing and shoes with products containing 0.5% permethrin
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents in children under 3 years old)
- Wear long sleeves and pants as well as tall socks
After coming inside, children should:
- Check for ticks within 30 minutes especially under the arms, in the belly button, on the scalp and behind the ears
- Remove any ticks you find on the body and clean the bite with soap and water
- Take a shower after coming in from the outdoors
“Prevention is key,” says Dr. Kahn, “especially if your child is playing outside in endemic areas.”
What Causes Lyme Disease In A Child
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are spread to people by tick bites. The ticks that carry the bacteria are:
- Black-legged deer tick. These are found in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and North-Central U.S.
- Western black-legged tick. These are found on the West Coast of the U.S.
Not all ticks carry the Lyme disease bacteria. Depending on the location, less than 1 in 100 to more than half of ticks in that area may be infected with Lyme.
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Early disseminated Lyme disease occurs several weeks to months after the tick bite.
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell, and a rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.
This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.
Symptoms can include:
- disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
- neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis
The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.
Children With Lyme Disease
Children with Lyme disease have special issues. Since they cant always explain what feels wrong, they may just come across as cranky and irritable. They suffer when their bodies hurt, when their illness disrupts their sleep at night, when they struggle in school, when they dont even feel like playing. They may feel confused, lost and betrayed by parents and teachers who fail to recognize that they are sick and need help.
Mothers and fathers may not understand what the childs normal baseline is. Is this the terrible twos or the nine-year-old change or is something really wrong?
Because the symptoms of Lyme disease can be non-specific, vague and changeable, adults may not even realize these children are ill. They may suspect them of making things up to gain attention or to avoid school. Children with Lyme often have trouble in the classroom, because the disease can contribute to learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
Children are especially vulnerable to tick-borne diseases because they are physically low to the ground, where the ticks are. They play in leaves, roll on grass, cuddle with pets and otherwise increase their exposure to ticks.
LymeDisease.org is the publisher of The Lyme Times, a quarterly online magazine available to members. We have two issues that have a wealth of information about children and Lyme disease. Please click on the buttons below to view the Table of Contents of each issue.
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What Causes Lyme Disease
People get Lyme disease when they are bitten by an infected tick. Ticks live in areas with a lot of plant life, such as wooded areas or fields. They sit near the top of grassy plants and low bushes. They wait there for people or animals to brush up against them. Ticks can crawl on your clothes or body for up to several hours or more before attaching to the skin.
Ticks can attach to any part of your body. They are usually found in hard-to-see areas, including the armpits, groin, or scalp. An infected tick needs to be attached to your skin for 36 to 48 hours before it passes the bacteria on to you.
People who spend time in outdoor areas where ticks are common are at higher risk of getting tick-borne diseases.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- I found a tick embedded in my skin, but I cant get it out. What should I do?
- Ive been bitten by a tick. Do I need to be seen?
- Do I need a blood test to confirm Lyme disease?
- Which antibiotic is best for me?
- How long will I have to take the antibiotic?
- What tick or insect repellent should I use for me or my child?
- How long will the symptoms last?
- What should I do if I still dont feel well a long time after I was bitten?
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Children Are Prime Targets For Tick
This is due to two main factors kids proximity to the ground, and their penchant for outdoor activities like playing in the leaves, both of which can increase their chances of coming in contact with ticks. The majority of Lyme cases in children tend to occur between ages 5 and 9, states the CDC, and boys are more likely to contract Lyme disease than girls in the U.S.
Living With Lyme Disease
Most people treated in the early stages of Lyme disease make a quick and complete recovery. Some may experience symptoms for a few weeks after treatment. If you were treated for Lyme disease but you still dont feel well, call your family doctor. He or she can make sure there isnt something else wrong. They can help you find ways to ease your symptoms. Some patients have found relief with treatments typically used for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Other things you can do to help manage Lyme disease include:
- Educate yourself.There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
- Track your symptoms.Keep a diary of your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how youre feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them.
- Take care of yourself.Eat a healthy diet. Exercise as regularly as you can. Get plenty of rest.
Find support. It can be hard to not feel well and not know why. Some people may think your symptoms arent real. Talk to friends and family. If they cant offer support, talk with a counselor who can help you.
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What Increases Your Risk
The main risk factor for Lyme disease is exposure to ticks that are infected with Lyme disease bacteria. In areas where Lyme disease is widespread, such as the eastern and south-central areas of Canada, southern British Columbia, and northeastern United States, several factors may increase your risk, including:
- Spending time outdoors during the warm months of the year when ticks are most active. This is usually between May and November, with peak activity in June and July.
- Having indoor/outdoor pets. They can bring infected ticks into the house. Although dogs and cats can become infected with the Lyme disease bacteria, they cannot pass the illness to humans. But the infected ticks can drop off the animal and then bite and infect a person.
- Having a stone fence or a bird feeder near your house. Stone fences often become homes for mice, and mice may feed on spilled seed from a bird feeder. Where there are mice, there are ticks.
Remove ticks right away, as soon as you notice them. Your risk for getting Lyme disease increases the longer a tick is attached to your body. Ticks generally cannot transmit Lyme disease until they are attached for at least 36 hours.
Is Lyme Disease Contagious
No, Lyme disease is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from person to person through oral or sexual contact or blood transfusions.
Lyme disease can become dangerous if the symptoms become long-lasting, which is why its imperative that you spot and get them treated early. We hope the information above helped but always consult a medical professional just to be sure.
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The Chance Of Getting Lyme Disease
Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
But it’s still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.
Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures that live in woods, areas with long grass, and sometimes in urban parks and gardens. They’re found all over the UK.
Ticks do not jump or fly. They attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.
Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off.
Treating Lyme Disease: When Do Symptoms Resolve In Children
- Children’s National Health System
- Researchers in infectious disease examined how quickly Lyme disease symptoms typically resolve in children, a question that has received little prior study.
For many Americans, the warmer weather of summer means more time spent outside: More gardening and yard work, more hikes in the woods, more backyard barbecues. But for this year in particular, some experts predict warmer weather will lead to more ticks.
That potential boom in ticks could lead to another boom — in Lyme disease, a bacterial illness transmitted specifically by deer ticks. When ticks attach for at least 36 hours — what studies have shown is typically the lower bound needed to transmit Lyme-causing bacteria — many patients develop a bullseye-like rash at the site of the bite within seven to 10 days. If they’re not treated quickly, within weeks patients can develop symptoms such as headaches, heart arrhythmias, rashes and facial paralysis. Within months, Lyme can lead to arthritis, most commonly of the knee.
They found that after children with the early form of Lyme disease started treatment, their Lyme-associated headaches resolved rapidly — most within one to three days¬ — no matter how long headaches were present before they came to the hospital for treatment.
Children’s infectious disease experts routinely advise parents about how to protect their children from Lyme disease. Their tips:
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When Should You Call Your Doctor
- A tick is attached to your body and you are unable to remove the entire tick.
- You have a circular red rash that expands over the course of several days, especially if you know you were recently exposed to ticks. You may also have flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever, chills, or body aches.
- You feel very tired or have joint pain , irregular heartbeats, severe headache, or neck pain.
- You are pregnant or nursing and you think you may have been exposed to ticks.
What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP will ask about your symptoms and consider any rash or recent tick bites you know about.
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. It has similar symptoms to other conditions and there’s not always an obvious rash.
2 types of blood test are available to help confirm or rule out Lyme disease. But these tests are not always accurate in the early stages of the disease.
You may need to be retested if you still have Lyme disease symptoms after a negative result.
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What Are Possible Complications Of Lyme Disease In A Child
Some children may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome . This means that some symptoms last longer than 6 months. Symptoms can include:
- Ongoing muscle and nerve pain
- Problems with memory
PLDS does not respond to antibiotics. That’s because there isn’t an active infection anymore. Treatment is aimed at helping to control the symptoms.
How Can Ld Be Prevented
Physicians should be aware of the epidemiology of tick-borne LD in their area, and recommend some basic precautions for families living, hiking or camping in rural or wooded areas where they may be exposed to ticks.
- Where play spaces adjoin wooded areas, landscaping can reduce contact with ticks. A pictogram from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available at: www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/in_the_yard.html
- Apply 20% to 30% DEET or icaridin repellents. Repellents can be applied to clothing as well as to exposed skin. Always read and follow label directions.
- Do a full body check every day for ticks. Promptly remove ticks found on yourself, children and pets. Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash off unattached ticks.
For more information on how to prevent tick bites, refer to a recent practice point from the Canadian Paediatric Society at: www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/preventing-mosquito-and-tick-bites.
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How Can I Protect My Child From Deer Ticks
Ticks cannot jump or fly. They climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for potential hosts to brush against them.
If you live, hike or camp in rural or wooded areas where you may be exposed to ticks, especially from late spring to early fall, you should take precautions. Here is what you can do to help prevent contact with infected ticks:
- In wooded areas and parks, stay on paths to avoid areas where ticks are most common.
- Ensure you and your children are dressed in long, loose-fitting clothes that cover the arms and legs, a hat and closed shoes . Tucking shirts into pants and pants into socks are extra precautions.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin as directed on the label. Reapply as suggested.
- Practice daily full body checks for ticks, and remove any attached ticks.
- Shower or bathe within a few hours of being outdoors.
- Keep gardens tidy and landscaped if you live near a wooded area.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease in humans.
Traditional Testing Methods Are Unreliable
Tests like the ELISA and the Standard Western Blot have low sensitivity and can miss a large percentage of children who have been infected with Lyme disease. In other words, a child could have a negative test and still have Lyme disease.
However, physicians with additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases, like a Lyme-literate medical doctor , can order additional tests to provide clues as to whats going on or diagnose Lyme disease based on a childs clinical presentation, symptoms, the potential for exposure to ticks, and medical history.
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